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JBL 126, no.

3 (2007): 595-613

Lion and Human in

Gospel of Thomas Logion 7
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822

Logion 7 (NHC II, 2, 33:23-29) has challenged interpreters of Thomas's

Gospel since the text first became available to scholars.1 In the only sustained treat
ment that the saying has received, Howard Jackson characterizes Gos. Thorn. 7 as
"[a]mong the hardest of the 'hard sayings' that the [Gospel of Thomas] sets upon the
lips of Jesus."2 In its Coptic version, divided into clauses, it runs:3
1. nexeTc
2. oYMXKxpiocnenMoyei nxei 6T6npo)M6 nxoyomh
3. XY?)?T6nMOY6l 0)(Dn6 ppo)M6
4. AY?D^BHT?einpcDMeriAei eTeriMOYei naoyomh
5. vfiDiiMOYei NAd)(Dne ppcoMe.

I wish to thank the Journal of Biblical Literature's two anonymous reviewers for their
thoughtful comments.
1 For example, the early treatments by Johannes Leipoldt, "Ein Neues Evangelium? Das kop
tische Thomasevangelium ?bersetzt und besprochen," TLZ 83 (1958): 481-96; also Robert M.
Grant, "Notes on the Gospel of Thomas," VC 13 (1959): 170-80; Bertil G?rtner, The Theology of
the Gospel of Thomas (trans. Eric J. Sharpe; London: Collins, 1961), 159-85; Jacques-?. M?nard,
L'?vangile selon Thomas (NHS 5; Leiden: Brill, 1975), 86-88.
2 Howard M. Jackson, The Lion Becomes Man: The Gnostic Leontomorphic Creator and the
Platonic Tradition (SBLDS 81; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1985), 1. His assessment is echoed by
Marvin Meyer, review of Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, JBL 17 (1988): 159-61, at 159; also Francis T.
Fall?n and Ron Cameron, "The Gospel of Thomas: A Forschungsbericht and Analysis," ANRW
2.25.6 (1988): 4196-4251, at 4234.1 use the logia numbering in accordance with the critical edi
tion of Bentley Layton, ed., Nag Hammadi Codex II, 2-7 Together with XIII, 2*, Brit. Lib. Or.
4926(1) and P. Oxy. 1, 654, 655 (NHS 20-21; Leiden: Brill, 1989); cf. Marvin Meyer, The Gospel of
Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992).
3 Jackson divides the logions clause structure differently, into seven units (Lion Becomes
Man, 1).


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596 Journal of Biblical Literature 126, no. 3 (2007)

1. Jesus said,
2. "Blessed is the lion that the human eats,
3. and the lion becomes human.
4. And cursed is the human that the lion eats,
5. and the lion will become human."

No parallel may be found attributed to Jesus in any canonical or noncanonical

Gospel or the agrapha.4 Although it is attested in at least two recensions of the
Gospel of Thomas, Coptic (NHC II, 2) and Greek (P.Oxy. 654), its isolated trans
mission in Gospel of Thomas has rendered the logion frustratingly enigmatic.
And it is enigmatic indeed. The logion shares little in the way of thematic
motifs with other sayings in the Gospel of Thomas tradition. The motif of the lion
so dominant in Gos. Thorn. 7 does not occur elsewhere in the Gospel of Thomas, or
even in other Thomas traditions preserved in the Nag Hammadi codices or else
where.5 More broadly, concern over eating is shared with only one other logion,
Gos. Thorn. 11:

Jesus said, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. And
the dead (elements) will not die. In the days when you (plur.) used to ingest dead
(elements), you made them alive. When you are in the light what will you do? On
the day that you were one, you made two. And when you are two, what will you

Even here it is not entirely clear what the connection may be between the two say
ings.7 The enigma of Gos. Thorn. 7 has left it in a state of exegetical neglect in com

4 Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 2.

5 Whether such texts as the Book of Thomas the Contender and the Acts of Thomas are other
artifacts of a possible "school of St. Thomas" is not directly relevant here, but for recent discus
sion compare Risto Uro, Thomas: Seeking the Historical Context of the Gospel of Thomas (Lon
don/New York: T&T Clark, 2003), 8-30; and Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures: A New
Translation with Annotations and Introductions (New York: Doubleday, 1987), 359-409.
6 Trans. Layton, Gnostic Scriptures.
7 The thematic connection between logia 7 and 11 is given special significance by Gartner,
Theology of the Gospel of Thomas, 163-64, who sees Gos. Thorn. 7 as the exegetical key to the "oth
erwise obscure" logion 11. The solution to the enigma of logion 7 is to draw an equivalence
between the lion of logion 7 and the corpse of logion 11. The bulk of his commentary on Gos.
Thorn. 7 is then constructed from twice-removed parallels of corpse imagery (since in his exege
sis corpse = lion) in Valentinian literature (Gospel of Truth [NHC I, 3, 25:10-19]; Hippolytus,
Refutation 5.8.32; Gospel of Philip [NHC II, 3, 73:19-27, 77:2-7]). Richard Valantasis has high
lighted the motif of eating shared by Gos. Thorn. 7 and 11 as connected with his reading of Thomas
as an ascetical text, elaborated more generally in "Gospel of Thomas and Asceticism: Revisiting
an Old Problem with a New Theory," JECS 7 (1999): 55-81; and specifically directed toward Gos.
Thorn. 7 in his The Gospel of Thomas (New Testament Readings; New York: Routledge, 1997), 38,

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Crislip: Gospel of Thomas Logion 7 597

parison with the attention received by other passages with parallels in the Synop
tic Gospels or in extrabiblical testimony.8
In the following pages I offer a new reading of Gos. Thorn. 7. Since Gos. Thorn.
7 exists in relative isolation in the Gospel, I will avoid predicating my reading on
any a priori theory of the Gospels compositional or redactional history, its theo
logical coherence (or lack thereof), or its social location or liturgical use. Rather, the
present paper takes up the very reasonable charge tendered by Francis Fall?n and
Ron Cameron "to analyze in depth the originally discrete sayings in the text."9 In
short, I argue that the key to understanding Gos. Thorn. 7 as a discrete saying may
be found in early Christian discourse about the resurrection. That is to say, the alle
gory of lion and human in Gos. Thorn. 7 represents at least one strand of Thoma
sine reflection on the general resurrection. I will first discuss as briefly as possible
the previous attempts to place the logion theologically and literarily, and then move
on to my own analysis of this obscure saying of the living Jesus.

I. Previous Approaches to Gospel of Thomas 7

Gospel of Thomas 7 has been reckoned an interpretive problem since the first
publication of the Coptic text, so problematic in fact that a number of commenta
tors immediately sought to emend the text to render a clearer meaning. Early com
mentators identified the enigmatic final clause as an obvious error and sought
emendation by reversing subject and object in the final clause (line 5 above). With
this emendation, "And the lion will become human * instead reads, "And the human
will become lion."10 An advantage of this emendation is that it creates (or ostensi
bly restores) a parallelism between the two parts (lines 3 and 5 above). It also makes
a certain degree of common sense. When a human eats a lion (or anything else for
that matter) the human assimilates it as food (?[ioiobv or zvoov in the terminol

8 Jacksons exhaustive monograph is the exception in this case and casts its net rather
broadly on leonine imagery possibly underlying the composition and/or reception of Gos. Thorn.
7. For bibliography, see Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 2-3. Other more or less extensive treatments
of Gos. Thorn. 7 include G?rtner, Theology of the Gospel of Thomas, 162-64, on which Jackson
draws; and Valantasis, Gospel of Thomas, 38,64-65.1 engage Valantasiss reading a bit more exten
sively in the following pages.
9 Fall?n and Cameron, "Gospel of Thomas," 4237.
10 For example, the early treatments by Leipoldt, "Ein Neues Evangelium?" 483, who trans
lates "so dass der L?we zum Menschen warden wird [sic!]"; also Grant, "Notes," 170; Jean Doresse,
The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics (London: Hollis & Carter, 1960), 356, 371; G?rtner, The
ology of the Gospel of Thomas, 159-85; M?nard, L'?vangile selon Thomas, 56-57, 86-88. Other
translators and commentators have at least shown some partiality to the possibility that the final
clause contains an error in either translation or copying and have marked their translations with
"sic." See Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 4-12.

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598 Journal of Biblical Literature 126, no. 3 (2007)

ogy of ancient medicine), and the food becomes part of the human. When a lion
eats a human, the opposite happens: the "human becomes lion."
Yet, for a variety of reasons, the commonsense emendation of early commen
tators has failed to convince the majority of the Gospels students.11 On the one
hand, the proposed emendation renders the supposedly "obscure saying" almost
tautological. It is hard to imagine what hidden meaning such a commonplace tru
ism about digestion would hold for readers of the Gospel of Thomas, faced through
out with paradoxical logia of the living Jesus. In this respect, NHC II, 2 certainly
preserves the lectio difficilior.
Even clearer are the text-critical reasons for preserving the original reading of
Gos. Thorn. 7 as preserved in NHC II, 2. The reason for the supposed error is not
entirely clear, purportedly either due to a copyist's or translators error, and Jackson
has effectively countered the arguments for emendation.12 The subsequent critical
edition of the Coptic and Greek witnesses by Bentley Layton and Harold Attridge
has shown without any doubt that the text should not be emended and must be
understood as it stands.
Given that the text as preserved in NHC II must stand, what then is the seeker
to do with the enigma of logion 7? Two attempts by scholars to situate the logion
in its proper literary and historical context deserve attention here?those of Jack
son and Richard Valantasis, who have set forth compelling and widely accepted
arguments that Gos. Thorn. 7 should be read as a hidden saying advocating the
seekers control of his or her passions (Jackson) or as a hidden saying about asceti
cal diet (Valantasis).

Lion as Passion

Jackson assembles an impressive collection of material relating to leonine

imagery in Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery and astrological traditions, Gnostic
and Valentinian literature, and even Manichaean and Mandaean scriptures. The
cataloging and description of leonine imagery dominate the study, 187 out of 214
pages. Yet for all the weight of the Jewish, pagan, Christian, Manichaean, and Man
daean leontomorphic imagery that Jackson assembles, it remains tangential to the
central interpretive crux of Gos. Thorn. 7 and ultimately does not prove decisive in

1 * With a notable exception in April D. DeConick, who cites an emended version of the
logion, "And cursed is the human who the lion eats, [[and the human becomes a lion]]" (Recov
ering the Original Gospel of Thomas: A History of the Gospel and Its Growth [Early Christianity
in Context; Library of New Testament Studies 286; London/New York: T&T Clark, 2005], 81).
12 Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 4-12; echoed positively by Meyer, review of Lion Becomes
Man, 159. Only a few fragmentary letters survive of the Greek text, P.Oxy. 1, 654.40-42, and the
remaining traces offer little in the way of support for emendation of the Coptic text, Nag Ham
madi Codex II, 2-7, 117-18.

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Crislip: Gospel of Thomas Logion 7 599

explaining the meaning of the text.13 The broad swath of leontomorphic imagery
really only sets the stage for the true interpretation of the logion, which Jackson
finds in the Gnostic reception of Platos allegory of the soul in the Republic.14
In the Republic, Plato sets forth "a symbolic image of the soul," consisting of
three forms "grown together in one," like "the Chimera or Scylla or Cerberus" (Resp.
588d, 588c).15 The three forms include "a single shape of a manifold and many
headed beast," "one of a lion," and "one of a man" (Resp. 588c; Shorey, LCL). The
interactions of the tripartite soul exemplify the just or unjust actions of the person
by their concord or discord. So Socrates suggests,
Let us then say to the speaker who avers that it pays this man to be unjust, and
that to do justice is not for his advantage, that he is affirming nothing else than
that it profits him to feast and make strong the multifarious beast and the lion and
all that pertains to the lion, but to starve the man and so enfeeble him that he can
be pulled about whithersoever either of the others drag him, and not to famil
iarize or reconcile with one another the two creatures but suffer them to bite and
fight and devour one another.
And on the other hand, he who says that justice is the more profitable affirms
that all our actions and words should tend to give the man within us complete
domination over the entire man and make him take charge of the many-headed
beast?like a farmer who cherishes and trains the cultivated plants but checks
the growth of the wild?and he will make an ally of the lion's nature, and caring
for all the beasts alike will first make them friendly to one another and to him
self, and so foster their growth. (Resp. 588e-589b; Shorey, LCL)

In my reading, the passage as cited does not immediately suggest itself as a

profitable intertext for Gos. Thorn. 7. But the presence of a Coptic translation of
Resp. 588a-589b in the Nag Hammadi codices (NHC VI, 5) makes it especially
appealing to read Gos. Thorn. 7 and Platos allegory intertextually, and it is to this
aim that Jackson devoted his learned study. It is indeed hard to resist such a coin
Yet the inclusion of these two texts in the same bibliographical collection of
thirteen codices does not prove that an understanding of Resp. 588a-589b is nee

131 agree with Meyer that the leontocephalic deities "relate in only a marginal way to logion
7 of the Gospel of Thomas" (review of Lion Becomes Man, 160); Jackson nearly admits as much
himself (Lion Becomes Man, 183-84).
14 Yet the Platonic material has also been recognized as not directly relevant to Gos. Thorn.
7. Robert Hayward writes, "The Platonic material does not seem to be quite as central as Jackson
would wish to make it; indeed, he himself candidly admits that the lion element in the soul is
potentially good, whereas the Gnostic leontomorphic demiurge is, by and large, irredeemably
wicked and malicious. The relevance of some parts of his final chapter may be questioned for this
reason" (review of Lion Becomes Man, JSS 33 [1988]: 288-90, at 290).
15 Trans. Paul Shorey, Plato: The Republic (LCL; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,

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600 Journal of Biblical Literature 126, no. 3 (2007)

essary for interpreting Gos. Thorn. 7, or indeed aids in identifying the logions Sitz
im Leben. On the one hand, the codex that preserves the Gospel of Thomas (NHC
II, 2) does not preserve the excerpt from the Republic (NHC VI, 5). Furthermore,
the two codices lack any scribal connection or thematic unity (apart from the leo
nine imagery in the passages discussed here).16 On the other hand, the translation
of the Republic, probably via a philosophical anthology,17 is of such a poor quality
that it is difficult to determine the point of its inclusion in the volume. The extract
is "ineptly translated," according to Jackson, and "hopelessly confused," "a disas
trous failure," and "a product of an intellectually unsophisticated person who has
lost contact with a living philosophical tradition," according to James Brashler, who
notes that "Platos words have been distorted and misunderstood so badly that they
are hardly recognizable."18 But the translation's confusion and the lack of clear
scribal or thematic connection between the two codices notwithstanding, the
preservation of Resp. 588a-589b in the bibliographical collection discovered at Nag
Hammadi allows for the very real possibility that third- or fourth-century Gnostic
readers interpreted Gos. Thorn. 7 and Platos allegory of the soul (at least in its
excerpted and redacted form) intertextually. Jacksons analysis, which I will discuss
in detail below, shows how such a Gnostic reading of Thomas and Plato could have
worked in late antiquity.
But does this mean that Plato's allegory of the soul is necessarily the "key" to
unlock the allegory of Gos. Thorn. 7?19 In fact there are significant difficulties in
Jackson's interpretation of Gos. Thorn. 7, particularly his use of Resp. 588b-589b as
an intertext. The first is the general dissimilarity between the soul in Resp. 588b
589b and the lion and human in Gos. Thorn. 7. The second is the general "gnosti
cizing" framework in which his treatment of logion 7 is necessarily placed.
On a fundamental level, it is far from clear that Gos. Thorn. 7 reflects Plato's
allegory of the soul in Resp. 588b-589b. Even if the lion and human in logion 7
represent two parts of the human soul, the XoyiaTixov and the ?opoei???, Plato's
allegory differs markedly. The soul, for Plato?and thus his allegory of it?is tri
partite. The tripartite soul is a lasting component of the Platonic tradition.20 Each

16 On the paleography of the codices, see James M. Robinson, "The Construction of the Nag
Hammadi Codices," 189, in Essays on the Nag Hammadi Texts: Essays in Honour ofPahorLabib
(ed. Martin Krause; NHS 6; Leiden: Brill, 1975), 189. Robinson notes some similarities in the two
codices' binding, although not to the same extent as between NHC VI, IX, and X (ibid., 186-88,
17 James Brashler, "Plato, Republic 588b-589b, VI, 5: 48,16-51,23," in Douglas M. Parrott,
ed., Nag Hammadi Codices V, 2-5 and VI, with Papyrus Berolinensis 8502, 1 and 4 (NHC 11; Lei
den: Brill), 325-26.
18 Howard M. Jackson, "Plato, Republic 588A-589A (VI,5)," in The Nag Hammadi Library
in English (ed. James M. Robinson; New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1978), 318; Brashler, "Plato,
Republic 588b-589b, VI, 5: 48,16-51,23," 325, 326.
19 Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 2.
20 So T. M. Robinson, Plato's Psychology (2nd ed.; Phoenix Supplementary vol. 8; Toronto:

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component of the tripartite soul?human, lion, and multiheaded beast?is essen

tial to Plato's philosophical psychology. Yet Gos. Thorn. 7 establishes a bipartite dis
tinction between lion and human. No mention of the multiheaded beast nor
intimation thereof is to be found in Gos. Thorn. 7. Without the tripartite division
and the multiheaded beast, it is something of an interpretive stretch to assume the
reflection of the idea from the Republic in Gos. Thorn. 7.
Furthermore, terminology describing the relationship between the lion and
the human in Platos allegory of the soul differs significantly from terminology
describing the relationship between human and lion in Gos. Thorn. 7. Most saliently,
Resp. 588b-589b draws the crucial distinction between harmony and disharmony.
Nowhere does the Platonic tradition in the Republic, or in the Coptic ("gnosticiz
ing" in Jacksons analysis) version in NHC VI, 5, speak of the taming of the leonine
psychic part as "eating" the lion.21 Quite to the contrary, the soul of the just is exem
plified by the human part harnessing the positive qualities of the many-headed
beast and the lion, and thereby minimizing the negative liabilities of each. Neither,
in the case of the unjust, does the leonine part of the soul eat the human part in
Platos allegory. In the case of the unjust person, the lion and the multiheaded beast
together, as previously cited, "starve the man and so enfeeble him that he can be
pulled about whithersoever either of the others drag him" (Resp. 588e-589a; Shorey,
LCL). The end result is not that the leonine soul devours the human soul. Rather,
enmity dwells within the soul, and the human and leonine souls "devour one
another." Thus, the Platonic tradition contrasts the desirable and undesirable states
of harmony and disharmony within the tripartite soul. It does not contrast human
destruction of the leonine and leonine destruction of the human, as Jacksons Pla
tonic reading of Gos. Thorn. 7 would have it. Throughout his intertextual reading
of Resp. 588b-589b and Gos. Thorn. 7, Jackson elides the distinction between the
"devouring" of Gos. Thorn. 7 and "taming" of Resp. 588b-589b, as if the two were
essentially interchangeable.22 I remain unconvinced of this. To devour entails the

University of Toronto Press, 1995), 39-46, 119-25. Robinson claims, however, that positive evi
dence for the tripartite soul in Plato's later works (that is, after such dialogues as the Republic,
Timaeus, and Phaedrus) is lacking (Plato's Psychology, 124-25), an interesting problem not directly
relevant here.
21 Nor is the "gnosticizing" character of the translation entirely secure; see Brashler, who
writes, "To characterize this tractate [NHC VI, 5] as gnostic or Hermetic is hazardous. Although
its basic tenor is compatible with Gnostic or Hermetic views, it does not betray a marked gnos
tic tendency. Rather the theme of justice and the high moral tone evident in this document would
have been congenial to the vast majority of its readers in the late Hellenistic period" ("Plato,
Republic 588b-589b, VI, 5: 48,16-51,23," 326).
22 For example, Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 203. A similar motif of "swallowing" (Copt.
(DM?K) is employed in the Treatise on the Resurrection: "The Savior swallowed up death" (NHC I,
4,45:15); "This is the spiritual resurrection which swallows up the psychic in the same way as the
fleshly" (NHC I, 4, 45.40-46.3), trans. Malcolm L. Peel, Nag Hammadi Codex I (The Jung Codex)
(ed. Harold W. Attridge; NHS 22; Leiden: Brill, 1985). Cf. Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Treatise on

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602 Journal of Biblical Literature 126, no. 3 (2007)

incorporation and ultimate annihilation of another entity; it does not imply tam
ing, controlling, or working in concord.23 The annihilation of part of the soul, as
demanded by Jackson's reading, reflects neither Plato nor (more relevantly for the
first and second centuries ce.) Middle Platonism. Middle Platonic moral philoso
phy normally promoted the moderation of emotions or passions ([iZTpion?Qzia),
not their elimination (a7rdc0?toc), as is so vividly represented in Plato's allegory of
the soul.24 Yet in Gos. Thorn. 7 the focus is on elimination, not moderation.
Whether the human eats the lion or vice versa, the eating and annihilation of the
other are rendered ultimately as a positive event?the human element prevails. In
this respect the allegory of the soul in Resp. 588b-589b and Gos. Thorn. 7 stand in
clear contrast.
Jackson, in fact, notes some significant differences between Plato's allegory of
the soul and the lion and human in Gos. Thorn. 7, specifically the more negative val
uation of the lion in the Gospel of Thomas, and explains this as a result of the gen
eral Gnostic reception of Platonism, which entails a devaluation of matter.25 This
leads to the other difficulty with Jackson's exegesis of Gos. Thorn. 7: his assump
tion that the Gospel of Thomas is a "Gnostic" text, rooted in the full richness of the
Gnostic myth as elaborated in classic Gnostic texts and their Valentinian descen
dants. I do not wish to argue the point here, but the Gnostic character of Thomas
may by no means be taken for granted, and studies taking a variety of approaches
to the exegesis and source history of Thomas have raised serious?even devastat
ing?questions about the allegedly "Gnostic" nature of Thomas.26 In the end, Jack

the Resurrection from Nag Hammadi (HDR 12; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979), 16-17, 58
59. Again, this is in the context not of "taming" but of assimilating, destroying, or eliminating (or
a combination thereof). As shall become clear below, it is notable that both uses of the image of
"swallowing" are in the context of resurrection.
23 This notwithstanding the soul-parts "devouring one another" in the Republic, which
clearly entails fighting, yet not ingesting and eliminating the other as an entity in and of itself.
24 So, for example, the second-century c.E. philosopher Albinus, according to John M. Dil
lon, The Middle Platonists, 80 b.c. to a.d. 220 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977), 301-3.
The elimination of passions in Stoic psychology is a rather different situation. Although it differs
from the Platonic and Aristotelian goal of emotional moderation in lieu of "extirpation of the pas
sions," it does not speak of one part of the soul incorporating, eating, taming, or annihilating
another. Rather it employs a medical model, purging the sick soul of diseases (n?doi), or passions.
See, e.g., Martha C. Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 389, 386-88, 316-20.
25 Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 202-3.
26 Specifically targeted toward Jackson's exegesis of Gos. Thorn. 7 is Risto Uro, Thomas: Seek
ing the Historical Context of the Gospel of Thomas (London/New York: T&T Clark, 2003), 40-42.
More generally, see, e.g., April DeConick, Seek to See Him: Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the
Gospel of Thomas (VCSup 33; Leiden: Brill, 1996), 3-27; Antti Marjanen, "Is Thomas a Gnostic
Gospel?" in Thomas at the Crossroads: Essays on the Gospel of Thomas (ed. Uro Risto; Studies of
the New Testament and Its World; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998), 107-39. Gregory J. Riley, Res

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Crislip: Gospel of Thomas Logion 7 603

son's exhaustive treatment of Gos. Thorn. 7 does not convincingly solve the obscure

Gospel of Thomas 7 as Ascetical

The other recent significant attempt to understand the mystery of Gos. Thorn.
7 is that of Valantasis. He interprets the logion in agreement with his overall strat
egy of reading the Gospel of Thomas consistently as an ascetical text, in light of his
own thoughtful definition of asceticism.27 Valantasis takes the logions language of
diet and digestion seriously, in contrast to Jackson, who sees such language as win
dow dressing for more important matters of the soul. In Valantasis's reading, the
logions meaning lies in ascetical fasting.
This saying assumes a clearly articulated hierarchy of being: human beings live
higher on the scale of existence than even the mighty lion. Within this hierarchy
of being, the impetus to rise above the current status through eating also func
tions. . . . Jesus describes the process as "blessed" for the lion, but polluted or
fouled for the human.... The human being locked in the cycle of the eating of
meat, at least, cannot benefit in the same way [as the lion]: the human gains food
or becomes food and in both these circumstances has identified with the lower
rungs of the hierarchy of being.28

If the compositional context of Gos. Thorn, is after the historical Jesus and even
after the apostolic period in the early second century (ca. 100-110 ce.),29 a dating
that Valantasis supports, the logion "then revolves about the question of eating
meat, as opposed to observing a vegetarian diet, and to carefully regulating a very
small intake of food."30

urrection Reconsidered: Thomas and John in Controversy (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995); idem,
"The Gospel of Thomas in Recent Scholarship," CurBS 2 (1994): 227-52, at 229-32; Valantasis,
Gospel of Thomas, 13-14. Whether and how Gnostics, Manichaeans, and others used Thomas
has little bearing on the question of the theological, ecclesiastical, or social setting of the "origi
nal" Gospel of Thomas.
27 "I understand asceticism to include all the actions, called performances, that are required
to build a new identity, called a subjectivity.... At the heart of asceticism is the desire to create a
new person as a minority person with a larger religious culture. In order to create a new person,
there must be a withdrawal from the dominant modes of articulating subjectivity in order to cre
ate free space for something else to emerge. A redefinition of social relationships must also emerge
from the new understanding of the new subjectivity, as well as a concurrent change in the sym
bolic universe to justify and support the new subjectivity. These are all accomplished through a
rigorous set of intentional performances" (Gospel of Thomas, 22).
28 Valantasis, Gospel of Thomas, 64-65.
29 Ibid., 12-21.
30 Ibid., 65.

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604 Journal of Biblical Literature 126, no. 3 (2007)

Valantasis's ascetical reading effectively demonstrates how the Gospel of

Thomas, as a collection of 114 theologically and thematically diverse logia, could
be read by ascetically minded Christians, whether of the Antonine era or of late
antiquity. Philip Sellew has also demonstrated in a different way that Christian
ascetics and monastics could find much in Thomas to support their lifestyles ide
But Valantasis's reading is less effective in explaining the context in which Gos.
Thorn. 7 would have had its genesis. If Gos. Thorn. 7 concerns ascetic diet, and lion
and human represent levels in a hierarchy of beings, and the obscure saying ulti
mately functions to discourage the eating of meat, why then the curious choice of
lion? The use of lion in Gos. Thorn. 7 in fact suggests that the logion does not con
cern ascetic diet at all, at least as it was originally composed. This is indicated by the
simple fact that the lion?conspicuously and even emblematically?is not a normal
part of the human diet. In fact, Roman medical and scientific writers stress that the
consumption of lion flesh is beyond the bounds of civilized culture.32 To eat lion
flesh would place one among the most bizarre of the barbarians, barbarians who
exist perhaps only in the realm of imagination. So Pliny the Elder writes, "Then
come regions that are purely imaginary (fabulosa): toward the west are the Nigroi,
whose king is said to have only one eye, in his forehead; the Wild-beast-eaters, who
live chiefly on the flesh of panthers and lions; the Eatalls, who devour everything
...," and so on (Nat. 6.195).33 Galen, writing in the second century c.e., notes that
some do in fact eat lion flesh, but what civilized person would want to? He notes
with disdain, "Some people even eat bear meat, and that of lions and leopards,
which is worse still, boiling it either once only, or twice. I have said earlier what
twice-boiled is like."34 If one were to compose a Xoyo? aocpc?v designed to impart
a lesson about ascetical fasting, one could much more appropriately choose a rep
resentative animal that would normally constitute part of the audience's diet, rather
than an animal that is widely regarded as nearly inedible and a foodstuff appropri
ate only for barbarians and wild men.
In short, neither the quasi-Platonic allegory for the soul nor the allegorical
presentation of ascetic dietary rules provides a likely context in which Gos. Thorn.
7 could have been composed.

31 Philip Seilew, "Solitude, Pious Practice and the Formation of the Self: Comparative Read
ings in the Gospel of Thomas and the Apophthegmata patrum" (paper presented at the Eighth
Quadrennial Congress of the International Association for Coptic Studies, Paris, June-July 2004).
32 On the eating of lions in general, see August Steier, "L?we," PW 13:982; drawing on an
apparent misreading of Steier's article, Grant has suggested that Gos. Thorn. 7 may have referred
to the medicinal consumption of lion meat ("Notes," 170).
33 Trans. H. Rackham, Pliny, Natural History (LCL; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1942).
34 Galen, On the Properties of Foodstuffs (De alimentorum facultatibus) (trans. Owen Pow
ell; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 116; C. G. K?hn, Claudii Galeni Opera Omnia
6.664 (Leipzig, 1823; repr., Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1965).

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Crislip: Gospel of Thomas Logion 7 605

II. Lion and Human in Gospel of Thomas 7

and Christian Discourse on the Resurrection

The concurrence of two significant thematic elements in Gos. Thorn. 7 has

been overlooked in previous exegetical treatments and deserves closer scrutiny.
The first is the motif of ingestion of humans by a beast and the ingestion of a beast
by a human. The second closely related motif is the future transformation of one
bodily substance into another.35 Such a thematic pairing occurs conspicuously in
another prominent locus of theological reflection: early Christian discourse con
cerning the resurrection.
One of the earliest expositions of the related themes of animal-human con
sumption and future bodily transformation may be found in the tractate De resur
rectione, attributed to the second-century apologist Athenagoras.36 The authenticity
of De resurrectione has been the subject of lively debate since 1954, when Robert
Grant claimed that the treatise could not have been penned by the apologist
Athenagoras (ca. 161-180) but is an anti-Origenist polemic from the third or fourth
century.37 While Grant s specific case is questionable, the authenticity of De resur
rectione is still very much at issue.38 Nonetheless it does not impinge directly on
the current argument, since neither the Gospel of Thomas nor De resurrectione
serves as a source for the other, nor do I suggest that the Gospel of Thomas be dated
narrowly on the basis of De resurrectione. Rather, the discussion of beasts eating
humans and humans eating beasts in De resurrectione?whether penned in the
mid-second century or the third?provides a useful and relevant comparison for
the ways in which early Christians thought about the problematic doctrine of res
After dispensing with his opening remarks on the foolishness of his oppo
nents, the author of De resurrectione (Athenagoras for the sake of convenience)
takes up the basic questions of the physiology of the resurrection. That is to say, if
bodily resurrection, and not mere psychic immortality, truly lies at the heart of the
Gospel, how may the doctrine of resurrection be articulated in the terms of bodily

35 Rendered by the durative present-based future conjugation ("I Future") in clause 5, con
trasted with the non-durative conjunctive conjugation in clause 3.
36 It is found also in later adapters of this tradition, e.g., Methodius of Olympia, De. res.
1.20.4-5, and Gregory of Nyssa, De horn. opif. 25.3.
37 Robert M. Grant, "Athenagoras or Pseudo-Athenagoras?" HTR 47 (1954): 121-29.
38 Critical of Athenagoran authorship are Bernard Pouderon, "Apolog?tica," RevScRel 67
(1993): 23-40; 68 (1994): 19-38; Nicole Zeegers, "La paternit? ath?nagorienne du De resurrec
tione," RHE 87 (1992): 333-74; and David Runia, "Verba Philonica: Algamataphorein and the
Authenticity of the De Resurrectione Attributed to Athenagoras," VC 46 (1992): 313-27. The pri
mary defender of the works authenticity is Leslie W. Barnard, "The Authenticity of Athenagoras'
De Resurrectione," Studia Patr?stica 15 (1984): 39-49; idem, Athenagoras: A Study in Second Cen
tury Christian Apologetic (Th?ologie historique 18; Paris: Beauchesne, 1972).

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606 Journal of Biblical Literature 126, no. 3 (2007)

physiology as presented by Greek medical and philosophical writers and as

appraised popularly by those untrained in the Roman philosophical-medical koine?
Christians had debated such a question?at least in a basic form?since as early as
Pauls correspondence with his Corinthian congregation: "But someone will ask,
'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?"' (1 Cor 15:35
NRSV). Athenagoras counters a hypothetical extension of the questions faced by
Paul in Corinth: what happens if a human is eaten by beasts, "torn apart and
devoured by numerous animals of every kind which are accustomed to attack bod
ies like our own and satisfy their wants with them"? (De res. 3.3).39 Athenagoras
further elaborates the hypothetical situation,

This in any event is what they [critics of the resurrection] say: The bodies of
many who die in shipwrecks or who drown in rivers become food for fish; and
the bodies of many who die in wars or who are deprived of burial by some other
calamity or turn of events lie exposed as food for any animal that happens by.
Their first point is that since bodies are destroyed in this way and the parts and
limbs which make them up are torn apart and devoured by a large number of
animals and in being digested are united with the bodies of creatures so nour
ished (to!? tc?v xpecpofji?vcov acopioccHV ?voufi?vcov), any separation of them
is impossible. (De res. 4.1-2)

How such elements of the body would be pieced together in the resurrection
is a difficult question, and Athenagoras offers a number of answers, both theolog
ical and physiological. The simplest justification for Athenagoras is from God's
omnipotence: since God assembled humanity in all its parts and complexity, God
must have the ability to reassemble those parts (De res. 3.1-2). Athenagoras also
answers by drawing selectively on aspects of Galenic physiology. Animals assimi
late only the elements or humors of the consumed human, but not the "parts"
([ispCdv) of the consumed human.40 One could not identify, for example, the leg (or
any part of it, femur, muscle, toenail) eaten by and assimilated with an animal, but
only the humors or nutrients (e.g., bile, phlegm, blood, water) that constituted the
leg. Since, Athenagoras claims, resurrection bodies will not consist of the same
humors and elements as the present body, but "are reconstituted from their own
parts" (?x tc?v o?xe?cov [izpcdv izakiv aovicrcocfji?vcov), nothing that would
become part of the resurrection body would require discernment or separation
from the animal in the first place (De res. 7.1). Thus, the hypothetical objection is

39 Translations of De resurrectione are from William R. Schoedel, ed. and trans., Athenago
ras: Legatio and De Resurrectione (OECT; Oxford: Clarendon, 1972), altered.
40 Athenagoras gives a somewhat unusual list of the humors, blood, phlegm, bile, and breath,
in comparison to the more typically Galenic blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. See
Schoedel, Athenagoras, 105 n. 2.

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Crislip: Gospel of Thomas Logion 7 607

But the simple consumption of human by beast is not the ultimate concern for
Athenagoras. Athenagoras proceeds to address what would come to be called the
"chain consumption" problem (De res. 4.3-4).41 That is, if a human is eaten by an
animal, it becomes part of that animal. If that animal is then eaten by a human,
then the animal?along with the human elements that it had assimilated?is assim
ilated into the human. In such a situation the human body has incorporated por
tions of two human bodies. One wonders, at the time of the resurrection will not
at least one of the two people be left with something missing? Athenagoras draws
on Galenic theories of digestion to argue that a creature can only digest and assim
ilate food appropriate to it, and "nothing contrary to nature (Trapa cpuaiv) can
ever be united with anything for which it is not a fitting and proper food" (De res.
6.5). Since no one would contend that cannibalism is natural or appropriate for
humans, it follows that humans cannot properly digest and assimilate human flesh.
Thus, the hypothetical situation of the elements of two humans occupying the same
body could not happen in actuality (De res. 6.3-6).
Athenagoras's attempt to solve the problem of chain consumption and to artic
ulate the physiology of the resurrection is a late and philosophically sophisticated
example of a type of Christian discourse that can be traced as far back as Paul's first
letter to the Corinthians, as mentioned previously. Like Athenagoras, Paul too
worked within the matrix of ancient theories of physiology, probably in tension
between theories of physiology prevalent among those not educated in Greek phi
losophy and medicine and theories prevalent among the more philosophically
sophisticated.42 If we envision early Christian discourse on resurrection physiology
on something of a trajectory, with 1 Corinthians 15 and De resurrectione forming
two relatively fixed points, then Gos. Thorn. 7 lies somewhere in between the two.
For a second-century Christian?thus within this trajectory of early Christian res
urrection discourse?to hear of humans being eaten by lions would likely bring to
mind the question of resurrection physiology; that is, what happens to the Chris
tian eaten by the lion? Such an interest would have been compounded by the
increasing prominence of martyrdom and martyrological literature, since martyrs
are both archetypally eaten by lions or other beasts and are to be raised first to judge
the world (Rev 20:4-6).43
In this context Gos. Thorn. 7 can be profitably read as an "obscure saying" that
addresses the same sort of questions that De resurrectione and Paul do. Of course,
the Gospel of Thomas approaches the problem very differently from Athenagoras
or Paul. Thomas does not draw explicitly on the philosophical-medical koine of

41 Also see Methodius, De res. 1.20.4-5; and Gregory of Nyssa, De horn, opif 25.3, as cited
42 Dale B. Martin, The Corinthian Body (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 104-36.
43 On martyrs and lions or beasts, see, inter alia, Ignatius of Antioch, Rom. 4; Eusebius of
Caesarea, Hist. eccl. 3.36.

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608 Journal of Biblical Literature 126, no. 3 (2007)

the Roman empire, but rather on metaphor, paradox, and riddle to explore prob
lematic theological questions. Such differences in approach notwithstanding, Gos.
Thorn. 7 concerns itself with interests similar to those of De resurrectione: How is
the resurrection effected in the case of the human eaten by a lion, and, in a slight
departure from the treatments in Paul and Athenagoras, how does the resurrec
tion affect animals consumed by the human (in this case a lion)?
In this reading, "blessed" indeed is the lion that the human eats, especially
given the rarity with which such a dietary circumstance might happen, as Galen and
Pliny attest. In being eaten, the lion becomes human, and therein the blessing lies.
By having become human the lion will thus share in the eschatological blessings
that are God's special dispensation to humans, to be resurrected with a heavenly,
pneumatic body in the image of the ideal human, Jesus. In this sense (1)0)116 pp(l)M6
evokes the transformative language of eschatology and/or protology found else
where in early Christian resurrection discourse. So, for example, Paul employs a
similar theological trope when he speaks of bodily resurrection in the image of ?
Seircepo? ?cv0pco7co? ?? oopocvo? (1 Cor 15:47). It is not surprising that a logion
in the Gospel of Thomas should speak in terms evocative of, although not neces
sarily dependent on, Pauline theology. Such a Pauline-Thomasine connection is by
no means unsupported in Thomas studies. For example, Stevan Davies has
observed that

Thomas offers a view of Christian transformation not terribly different from the
Pauline view.... Insofar as Paul believes that people can (or will soon) attain to
the condition of Christ the image of God and thus replace the condition of Adam
of Genesis 2 with the condition of the image of God in Genesis 1, Thomasine
and Pauline ideas are similar.44

Others have also pointed out that the reclamation of the primordial unity of Gen
esis 1-2 through personal or bodily transformation (that is, becoming authenti
cally and ideally human) underlies both Paul's eschatology and the theology of the
Gospel of Thomas.45 All this is to say that a recognition of resurrection imagery in
Gos. Thorn. 7 goes a long way to explaining the meaning of the blessed lion's trans
formation into the human, and more specifically what such a saying might have
meant to a first- or second-century reader.

44Stevan L. Davies, "The Christology and Protology of the Gospel of Thomas," JBL 111
(1992): 663-82, at 668-69; he draws on insights of Robin Scroggs, The Last Adam: A Study in
Pauline Anthropology (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966). Pauline parallels in Thomas regarding the
resurrection are noted by Uro (Thomas at the Crossroads, 74-76), here specifically regarding Gos.
Thorn. 22, which Uro demonstrates "comes near to the Pauline view of the resurrected body"
(p. 76). Valantasis (Gospel of Thomas) has also noted Pauline parallels?at least at the level of com
mon theological interests?in Gos. Thorn. 53, 61, and 80.
45 Uro, Thomas at the Crossroads, 64-65; and Elaine Pagels, "Exegesis of Genesis 1 and the
Gospels of Thomas and John,"/?L 118 (1999): 477-96.

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A resurrection reading of Gos. Thorn. 7 also explains the curious reverse trans
formation of the "cursed" human eaten by the lion. Two questions regarding this
part of the logion have troubled commentators: why the human is "cursed," and
how?and why?the lion is nonetheless transformed into human.46 As to the first
of these questions, why should such a harsh sentence be given to the person eaten
by the lion? As covered above, previous explanations suggest that the "curse" is
levied because of the human's failure to control the passions, or because the human
being is trapped in the carnal cycle of meat-eating. As for the latter question, it is
not clear just what kind of a curse is described, since in the end the cursed human
element nonetheless triumphs over the lion.
By reading Gos. Thorn. 7 through the lens of early Christian discourse about
the resurrection, the "curse" in question may be clarified. In the context of early
Christian resurrection discourse, "cursed" does not entail a simple negative valua
tion. Rather, "cursed" maybe read in the context of first- and second-century sote
riology and christology, much in the manner of Paul's christological reading of
Deut 21:23, "for anyone hung on a tree is under God's curse" (Gal 3:13 NRSV). As
in the case of Paul's allegorical reading, in which the man who is cursed and hung
on a tree would be resurrected, so in Gos. Thorn. 7 it is the person who is cursed and
devoured by the lion who will nonetheless return to the authentically human state
in the future.
Reading Gos. Thorn. 7 in the context of early Christian resurrection discourse
also explains the curious "failure" of the curse, which is ultimately negated, in that
it is the lion that becomes human even after ingesting the human, in contrast to
the normal physiological process of digestion. In being eating by the lion, the
human becomes lion, his body is assimilated, and his constitutive elements or
humors become one with the lion. Nonetheless, just as the paradigmatic "cursed"
figure of Christ crucified was resurrected and saved from the jaws of death, so too
will this "cursed" human not miss out on the future eschatological transformation.
The parts of the lion with which the human had been assimilated would revert to
their authentically and ideally human form at the time of the general resurrection.
That is to say, the lion will become human. In this reading, at the heart of the mys
tery of Gos. Thorn. 7 is God's undefeatable transformative power through the res
Reading Gos. Thorn. 7 as an allegorical saying concerning the resurrection not
only clarifies the logions obscurities regarding bodily transformation, but also clar
ifies the peculiar usage of the lion specifically, a feature that previous exegetical
approaches have not. Jackson, for example, has amassed an extensive catalogue of

46 So H. E. W. Turner and Hugh Montefiore, who write, "The difficulty here is that the lion
seems to get the better of the bargain both ways and it is not surprising that suggestions for emen
dation have already been made" (Thomas and the Evangelists [SBT 35; Naperville, IL: Allenson,
1962], 94).

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leonine imagery in ancient Judaism, Platonism, Gnosticism, Manichaeism, and

Mandaeism in search of the lion as deity, demiurge, and passion, as noted previ
ously.47 But it is rather striking that he makes no use of the predominant and most
obvious use of leonine imagery in the Jewish Scriptures: the lion as death. In fact,
the elements of the Jewish Scriptures that Christians used most readily in christo
logical exegesis, especially the Psalms and Daniel, draw especially on the lion as a
symbol of death. So Ps 7:1-2, "O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from
all my pursuers, and deliver me, or like a lion they will tear me apart; they will drag
me away, with no one to rescue" (NRSV). And Ps 10:8-9: "Their eyes stealthily
watch for the helpless; they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert" (NRSV); Ps 17:12:
"They are like a lion eager to tear, like a young lion lurking in ambush" (NRSV). Or
the heavily christological Ps 22:12-13, 21: "Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of
Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roar
ing lion.. . . Save me from the mouth of the lion" (NRSV). And to an early Chris
tian, what biblical proof text would a cursed man being devoured by a lion evoke
more readily than Daniel 6? Daniel's descent into and miraculous emergence from
the lion's den was a commonplace christological motif and "served mainly as an
example of. . . the hope of deliverance from death."48 Read in this context as part
of this mainstream of Christian reflection on the resurrection, the lion of Gos.
Thorn. 7 may be recognized as an indispensable and meaningfully resonant com
ponent of the logion.
I believe that this resurrection reading of Gos. Thorn. 7 has been overlooked
primarily because of the common assumption that the Gospel of Thomas is at heart
a gospel without resurrection, regardless of whether Thomas is determined to be
Gnostic or encratite, a late and derivative composition or among the earliest Chris
tian texts. Gregory Riley sums up the view succinctly: "Thomas Christianity denied
the resurrection of the flesh, even that of Jesus."49
Yet we should not be too quick to reject the possibility of a Thomasine theol
ogy of the resurrection, or at least the existence of a strand or stratum within the
Thomas tradition. For Thomas does not necessarily present a coherent and consis
tent theology, although it may have been received that way in various interpretive
communities. Rather, Thomas grew through a series of "accretions," a "rolling cor
pus" in April DeConick's terminology, as a collection of wisdom traditions passed
down first orally and later in written form that preserve community reactions to
various crises in theology and leadership.50 Thus, a number of Thomasine logia
may be understood in the context of early Christian reflection on eschatological

47 Jackson, Lion Becomes Man, 13-183, 215-233, pis. 1-19.

48 John J. Collins, Daniel: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Hermeneia; Minneapolis:
Fortress, 1993), 273; also J. Duncan M. Derrett, "Daniel and Salvation History," DRev 50 (1982):
63-68, reprinted in his Studies in the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 1986), 4:132-39.
49Riley, "Gospel of Thomas in Recent Scholarship," 240.
50DeConick, Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas, 55-63, 97-110, 159-237.

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Crislip: Gospel of Thomas Logion 7 611

themes, including reflection on the fate of the bodies of the living and deceased in
the coming end of the age.51 So compare Gos. Thorn. 22, for example:
Jesus saw some little ones nursing. He said to his disciples, "What these little ones
who are nursing resemble is those who enter the kingdom." They said to him,
"So shall we enter the kingdom by being little ones?" Jesus said to them, "When
you (plur.) make the two one and make the inside like the outside and the out
side like the inside and the above like the below, and that you might make the
male and the female be one and the same, so that the male might not be male nor
the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye and a hand in place
of a hand and a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image?then you
will enter [the kingdom]." (trans. Layton)

Risto Uro has identified logion 22 as "a Thomasine version of the Christian resur
rection belief," in which Thomas "conceptualize [s] future salvation in terms of bod
ily existence and describe [s] the replacement of the earthly body with a new asexual
body."52 Uro further observes that "Thomas comes near to the Pauline view of the
resurrected body,"53 a connection that I have suggested may also be at work in Gos.
Thorn. 7. Such a Thomasine eschatological stratum may further be reflected in
many other logia, such as Gos. Thorn. 11, already cited, which shares with logion 7
the twin motifs of eating and transformation: "Jesus said, 'This heaven will pass
away, and the one above it will pass away. And the dead (elements) will not die. In
the days when you (plur.) used to ingest dead (elements), you made them alive"
(trans. Layton).54 It also must not be forgotten that at least one recension of Thomas
preserves explicit support of the resurrection. The Greek version of Gos. Thorn. 5
as preserved in P.Oxy. 654 (which also preserves Gos. Thorn. 7) reads:

27 X?ysi T(ao?)c- y[vc?6i t? ?v ?[nzpoa-]

28 dev Tvj? 6?\)E(?c aoo, xal [t? xsxaXu[Ji[ji?vov]
29 ?-rco aoo ?TcoxaXucp<0>Y)aET[ai aoi * o? y?p ?a-]
30 Tiv xpoTCT?v ? o? (pave[pov ysvyjasToci],
31 xal OsOafjt^?vov ? o[?x eysp?rjasTai].55

51 See ibid., 161-69; DeConick sees Gos. Thorn. 7 (in its emended form, see above nn. 10
12) as part of Thomasine accretions that reflect apocalyptic concerns.
52 Uro, Thomas at the Crossroads, 75.
53 Ibid., 76, as cited previously, n. 44.
54 Uro points out that a number of other logia describe "salvation," however envisaged, as a
future event: Gos. Thorn. 4,18, 22, 23,27,44,49, 57,60, 70, 75, 79,106,111 (Thomas at the Cross
roads, 155-56). Helmut Koester has also identified a number of "originally eschatological say
ings" (3, 10, 16, 82, 91, and 113) (Introduction to the New Testament, vol. 2, History and Literature
of Early Christianity [Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1982], 153), and John H. Sieber has suggested
many others that may also "have once been eschatological in nature" (18,21,23, 36, 37,40,44,47b,
51, 57, 61, 68, 73, 79, 88, 91, and 98) ("The Gospel of Thomas and the New Testament," in Gospel
Origins and Christian Beginnings [ed. James E. Goehring et al.; Sonoma, CA: Polebridge, 1990],
64-73, at 73).
55 Ed. Harold Attridge, in Nag Hammadi Codex II, 2-7.

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The final stanzas in this recension thus read, "For there is nothing hidden that will
not be [made cl]ear, and nothing buried that [will no]t [be raised]" (my trans.).
While the final words o[ox zyzpdr?ozTai] fall into one of the many lacunas in the
manuscript, their reconstruction is solidly based on a parallel text preserved on a
late antique Christian burial shroud from Oxyrhynchus.56 The existence of clear
evidence of a doctrine of resurrection in some strands in the Thomasine tradition
suggests that not only does a resurrection reading of Gos. Thorn. 7 untangle the
interpretive difficulties of the logion as a discrete saying, but it also connects the
saying thematically to other elements in the Gospel.
A resurrection reading of Gos. Thorn. 7 furthermore links the logion to theo
logical motifs in later periods, for example, the theological literature of Edessa, the
likely site of composition for the Gospel of Thomas and a lasting locus of Thoma
sine theological reflection. In the poetry of Ephraem the Syrian, the lion itself func
tioned as a symbol of the resurrection by way of the Eucharist. In his Hymns on the
Unleavened Bread Ephraem draws on the leonine imagery of Judg 14:8-9 as a pr?
figuration of the salvific power of the Eucharist:

K'^u^ rCi\r< rfom r^7\ o\ :\ji 8

kL.K1^ r<r nr\ rtT-iilz) r<L>\r?3 9

r<^\c03 )s\\2n rdAw n^? \ ?v-?

Although the dead lion was unclean [Judg 14:8-9]

its bitterness yielded sweetness.
In the bitter lion, beautiful honey,
but in the sweet, unleavened bread, deathly bitterness. (Ephraem, De azymis 19.8-9)57

While the context of Ephraem's exegesis is certainly different, in his case a vicious
condemnation of Jews and praise of the saving medicine of the Eucharist, he, like
Gos. Thorn. 7, finds in the lion an especially powerful metaphor for salvific trans
In the disciplinary and theological literature of late antique monasteries of

56 H.-C. Puech, "Un logion de J?sus sur bandelette fun?raire," RHR 147 (1955): 126-29. The
reconstruction is accepted as probable by, inter alia, Ron Cameron, "Ancient Myths and Modern
Theories of the Gospel of Thomas and Christian Origins," Method and Theory in the Study of Reli
gion 11 (1999): 236-57, at 246 n. 13. More details on the problems of the Greek and Coptic recen
sions of Gos. Thorn. 5 may be found in Steven R. Johnson, "The Hidden/Revealed Saying in the
Greek and Coptic Versions of Gos. Thorn. 5 & 6," NovT 44 (2002): 176-85.
57 Edmund Beck, ed., Des Heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Paschhymnen (CSCO 248, Scriptores
Syri 108; Louvain: Secretariat of the CSCO, 1964), 35.1 wish to thank Tina Sheperdson of the Uni
versity of Tennessee, Knoxville, who brought this interesting passage to my attention in another
context and shared her own unpublished translation (from which my own differs slightly) with
the Models of Piety in Late Antiquity working group at the 2005 AAR/SBL annual meeting.

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Crislip: Gospel of Thomas Logion 7 613

Upper Egypt we may also hear echoes of the same theological concerns about the
resurrection that I have highlighted with respect to Gos. Thorn. 7, specifically the
problem of humans eaten by beasts. So Shenoute (fl. ca. 385-465), archimandrite
of a federation of three monasteries near the modern city of Sohag, considers this
same issue in I Am Amazed, a theological treatise directed specifically against the
reading of certain "apocryphal books" (NXOXDMe NM10KPY4>on).58 So he writes:
Concerning the resurrection, as for those who have drowned in waters, those
who have been burned up in fire, and those who are in the tomb, it is necessary
that they all rise. And those whom beasts have eaten (N6NTXN60HPI ON OYOMOy),
and those who died in other various ways, it is necessary for them all to rise
according to the scriptures.... For also the Lord and his saints raised up others,
signifying the great resurrection (TN06 NAN ACT AC I c) on the day that he will
herald, and the dead will rise, being incorruptible, and we will be transformed.59

If my reading of Gos. Thorn. 7 is correct, then Shenoute would have found an

unlikely theological ally for his doctrine of the resurrection in this apocryphal book.

58 Tito Orlandi, ed., Shenute contra Origenistas (Rome: d.M., 1985), 30 (?303), et passim;
see the concordance at p. 69. For the more definitive codicological reconstruction, which corrects
Orlandi's text and incorporates the numerous other manuscript witnesses, see Stephen Emmel,
Shenoute's Literary Corpus (CSCO Subsidia 599-600; Louvain: Peeters, 2004), 646-48, and table
99 (794-801). Emmel suggests that the sermon dates most likely to 444-449 ("Theophilus' Festal
Letter of 401 as Quoted by Shenute," in Divitiae Aegypti: Koptologische und verwandte Studien zu
Ehren von Martin Krause [ed. C?cilia Fluck et al.; Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1995], 93-98, at 94).
59 Orlandi, Shenute contra Origenistas, 38 (??389-90), my trans. For more on Shenoute's
theology of the resurrection, see Caroline T. Schroeder, Monastic Bodies: Discipline and Salvation
in Shenoute of Atripe (Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion; Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 145-51.

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